Man Plants Patriotism In His Front Yard With 25 American Flags
Moorhead Man Hopes To Grown Veterans Memorial And Continue Family Tradition
MOORHEAD, Minn. — There’s something that pops up in a quiet Moorhead neighborhood during the summer.
At a house on the corner of 13th Street and 4th Avenue South, just a couple blocks north of MSUM.
Dozens of American flags stand tall in a single yard.
It’s a striking visual.
Behind that display is a man with a lot of love for his country.
Now he has plans that stretch well beyond the sidewalk in front of his house.
What do you see when the flag flies? Is it more than cloth waving in the breeze? For this family, the meaning runs deeper.
Veteran Kenneth Johnson says, “There’s a reason that flag is there.”
Each flag is a person.
A story. Of sacrifice for our freedom.
Brought together, they form a tapestry.
Veteran Loren Sheldon adds, “It takes individuals to do that, and when you put them all together like this it’s very impressive.”
Brian Johnson started planting these flags two years ago.
He says, “Each flag as I carry it out I talk to them.”
He plants them right in his front lawn.
His wife, Lacie Johnson, says, “I thought it was a good idea. I mean, we’ve got a yard. Plenty of space for it.”
Lacie gives her full support. In fact, she’s one of the veterans honored in the display.
She adds, “I didn’t even think about putting up a flag of myself until my husband mentioned it.”
The whole idea started as a family affair, following the footsteps of Brian’s great-uncle, Perry Sheldon.
Brian says about his great-uncle, “He was passionate, and it runs in the family.”
A veteran himself, Perry Sheldon helped start the Veterans Flag Walk in Fergus Falls. In Moorhead, Perry’s flag is number one.
Brian says, “I start with the last one, work my way back. Perry’s is always the last to go in the ground, and the last one up at night.”
Each flag honors a veteran with a sticker detailing their service.
“Most if it’s family, with some close friends, neighbors,” Brian adds.
On this day, a family reunion is in town. A lot of these veterans, like Perry’s son Loren, are seeing the flags for the first time.
Loren gets emotional talking about the gesture, adding, “Honoring my father is very impressive. Mine is just a flag. Dad’s something else. ”
The Moorhead Veterans Memorial Walk of Flags has grown from just six to 25 in only two years, but Brian Johnson’s grand vision is a whole lot bigger.
He says, “We need a place to do it. It needs to be a permanent spot.”
Lacie adds, “We’ll always have these flags in our yard but I would love to see it where more people can see it.”
A dream, to honor everyone who served with a public memorial.
Brian says, “I would like to see a walk that is for the entire Red River Valley.”
The Fergus Falls flag walk has about 1,800 flags.
Brian says, “I want to one-up him and make it more.”
He wants to turn the flag into a public symbol of pride for those who served.
And, he adds, “Save a piece of history with each name.”
That’s in addition to the pride his military family has in him.
His father Kenneth calls the effort, “Very moving. What he did I think is wonderful. He has a lot of respect for veterans, and he shows it just by what he’s done.”
The flags fly on six to eight different days from Memorial Day to Veterans Day, depending on the weather.
The next date they’re set to fly is September 11th.
Brian says he’s talked with a local VFW group about a possible expansion but nothing is in the works.
He hopes getting the word out about his display will help lead to public display in the future.